The Broncos are struggling. That’s nothing new for the team, based on recent years. But it was supposed to be very different this year.
The hiring of a new coach, the trade for a franchise quarterback, and the arrival of a money-is-no-object ownership group combined to create unrealistically high expectations among a fan base that thought the clock would be reset to the Peyton Manning days.
Instead, the franchise remains stuck in quicksand. The Broncos, after starting 2-1, have lost seven of eight games to slump to 3-8.
While much of the criticism has been directed to Russell Wilson, the team traded for him. The team signed him to a long-term contract when it didn’t have to. And coach Nathaniel Hackett has become the most obvious target for fans who want something to be done.
On Monday, Hackett was asked by reporters what his message would be to fans who are sufficiently frustrated to want him out.
“Nobody is as frustrated as I am,” Hackett said. “This is not where we wanted to be at this time in the season. None of us thought it was going to be like this and that responsibility is fully on me. I want to be the one that can do everything to help this football team because we, as a group, have to come together and find a way to win a football game. We can’t play the way that we played yesterday and expect to win a football game. It starts with me from practice preparation and every single thing that we do. I’m the most frustrated. I think that our fans are great. They want to win, just like we all do. I don’t blame them for being frustrated. For me, all I know is to work and put my head down with our staff. I believe in this staff, and I believe in these players. We have to get better plays and better execution across the board.”
They have six more games to show that they can get it done. As explained last night on Football Night in America, it’s highly unlikely that Hackett will be fired before the season ends. After Week 18, however, all bets are off.
“Our fans mean the world to all of us,” Hackett added. “We work hard because we want to put a great product out on the field. We know that hasn’t been there, especially from offensive side of the ball. Everybody in that room, both coaches and players, are doing every single thing we can to try to put a better product out there. We have to prove it. We have to prove it to our fans and that’s what we’re going to continually try to do.”
Obviously, they’re trying. But they’re not succeeding. Over and over again. While it’s still not over, there’s no reason to expect a sudden and dramatic change.
And when the season ends, the change that seems to be coming will be neither sudden nor dramatic.